Mental Health Benefits of our Furry Family
The Comfort of Companionship
In today’s world, it’s common to experience stress on a daily basis. While there are many ways to cope with the pressure of society, almost all pet guardians will tell you that their animals are a significant source of their happiness and de-stressor in their lives. Had a bad day? Nothing boosts your mood better than your dog waiting by the door wagging his or her tail. Need a long rant about your eventful meeting? No better listener than your cat perched on your laptop ready for you to ramble on. A study on the mental health of dog owners during the recent Covid-19 pandemic showed that dog owners reported having significantly more social support compared to non-dog owners.
This 2023, the SPCA is hoping to make a positive impact on workplace well-being. We are excited to launch the inaugural Corporate Wellness programme, an initiative that will allow community and rescued animals to visit workplaces! This programme will not only help socialise the animals to increase their chances of finding loving homes but will also provide a powerful boost to the mental well-being of participating employees. Imagine the possibility of leaving work with a new furry family member! Visit the Corporate Wellness programme page for more information on how to have cats and puppies visit you while you’re at work.
If you’re simply looking to unwind and decompress with your pets, here are five fun ways to buffer your stress and anxiety while actually benefiting you and your fur-family!
- Positive Reinforcement Training
Training with your pet is actually an excellent way to create strong bonds with them. It helps to create good manners and correct misbehaviours, while also being an enjoyable and enriching activity that stimulates your pets mentally. The SPCA highly recommends positive reinforcement training; a humane, force-free, rewards-focused, and evidence-based approach to animal training. Examples include the use of rewards such as food, toys, or praise to promote desired behaviours, as well as to encourage the learning of alternative behaviours in place of unwanted behaviours. Through positive reinforcement training, you will bond with your pet and cultivate a relationship based on trust, cooperation, and positive associations. Pet guardians also feel a sense of achievement and joy watching their pets learn positive behaviours while building a strong bond.
- Walks and Playtime – Sweat Together, Stay Together
Other than the physical benefits of walking your dogs and playing “catch the feather” with your cats, these activities offer opportunities for quality time together. People with higher degrees of bond with their dogs were more likely to spend time walking them. Counting your daily steps together is a fantastic way to explore, engage the mind, and release excess energy. The exercise also helps to release natural endorphins; a great way to boost both of your moods!
Since cats generally do not go on walks, playtime is an essential part of their health and happiness. It is crucial you play with them twice a day for at least 15 minutes per session. It keeps their minds sharp while maintaining an active lifestyle. The best part is, it builds a fantastic bond between you and them! The equation is quite simple, the more hours you spend with your pets, the more you are part of their world. Don’t skip your feline’s daily games.
- Grooming – Pampering Time!
In our pets’ world, grooming one another is a sign of affection, a highly valued bonding time! While this activity may not always be done at home due to differing circumstances, we highly encourage pet guardians to at the very minimum, brush their pets daily. No matter the breed of your pets, long hair or short, pedigrees or mixed breeds (Singapore Specials!), brushing helps to remove shedding, tangles, and dirt while ventilating their coats to help them grow strong and healthy.
- Petflix and… relax?
Yes! Your pet can actually relax on the couch with you! While there aren’t many scientific studies on the benefits of television for our pets yet, it is common to find them curled up on the sofa with us while we binge on our favourite shows. Some pets even react to the visuals on the screen! Many also believe that the moving images on screen help keep our pets’ minds engaged, and research also shows that the sounds help desensitize them from future unfamiliar environments.
- A Clean Pet is a Happy Pet!
Just like you, your pet would much rather live in a clean and sanitary environment. Living in a clean space is not only better for both your physical and mental health, but it also removes unnecessary visual noise and helps you to focus on things you need to do, potentially improving your mood! Compared to us, our pets have extremely powerful noses and being constantly surrounded by dust and waste heightens their anxiety and allergies. Keeping the space clean will help keep diseases and parasites at bay, reducing the probability of injuries as well.
While the SPCA encourages spending quality time with pets, we would like to remind all pet guardians that all pets are different and to only engage in activities that your pets enjoy and to never force animals to partake in situations they don’t want to.
BY SIHAN NG
UPDATED MARCH 2023